Advertisement RIM have had a hard year in 2011. There were a number of server failures. The BlackBerry PlayBook has had dismal sales. RIM also had to…

Does RIM/BlackBerry Need To Win The American Market?

Blackberry Bold 9790


RIM have had a hard year in 2011. There were a number of server failures. The BlackBerry PlayBook has had dismal sales. RIM also had to rename their next generation OS version from BBX to BlackBerry 10. And now, their financial value is down over 70% in a year. A bad year indeed.

Mobility blog has a fast-thriving BBM group. Someone asked this question there yesterday: “Does RIM really need the American market to survive?


The answer, in my opinion, is a No, and I will state why. First take a look at the following:

  • There are a number of mobile manufacturers who build exclusively for the Japanese market and are doing fine. One market, yet healthy and profitable.
  • Huawei has slugged its way up to the top 5 manufacturers list without being able to win the U.S. market.
  • Market advisers have often said that it makes sense to focus on where one has comparative advantage or where you have a ready market.
  • Motivational speakers will also tell you to go where you are celebrated. For RIM, that should mean that they focus their most energies elsewhere, if only for now.

RIM Needs To Go Radical – In A Different Way

Here is a saying of mine. For the records, I made it all up, and it reflects my often non-conformist, adventurous and radical nature:


Doing and saying what is popular may indicate a lack of creativity, courage or intelligence. Possibly all.

Every manufacturer is copying the iPhone, though they won’t admit it. In my opinion, they all lack either courage to be different or creative. Possibly both.

Some so lack this creativity that they copy its weaknesses too – hook, line, and sinker! Bummer!

Interesting enough, the iPhone didn’t become so popular by copying anyone. Go figure.

RIM, Stand Out

RIM, stick with your strengths – those great keyboards, that excellent form factor, and your security. But be creative.

For example, provide the option to choose to use a BIS plan or not for internet access on your devices.

By all means stick primarily with QWERTY keyboards. Add a Communicator form factor (side-sliding QWERTY). Keep one full touchscreen range. But let your mainstream devices be those great candy QWERTYs that people so love.

Full touchscreen slabs may be popular, but it doesn’t mean that the QWERTY market is not sustainable. It is! And for now, RIM is king there.

Stand out! Don’t conform!!


Go Where You Are Celebrated

RIM has the strongest following anywhere but the US market and need to wake up to this reality. In the UK, BlackBerry devices are still some of the most desirable smartphones. There’s also the Netherlands, Brazil, and Nigeria, among several others.

RIM needs to focus their energies in these places.

If RIM is waiting for BlackBerry 10 to turn things around for them in the U.S. and in the eyes of the U.S. media, they are probably in for a surprise. On the contrary in the markets where RIM has good mindshare, both users and the media are constantly singing the praise of BlackBerry and talking about how awesome it is. RIM needs to focus on the markets where it needs the least energy to sell.

RIM will continue to sell to their die-hard customers in the U.S. too, but that is not where they are celebrated now.

Africa, South America, Asia

RIM needs to ride on the wave and hype that BlackBerry already has in these regions. The hype is much, though Blackberry devices are not really as popular.


So many people in Nigeria think that Blackberry is the most popular phone in Nigeria right now. Even media houses and tech people (who should know better) help spread this impression though it is very untrue! That’s tremendous market advantage.

Young and mid-age people in several countries across the world are going Blackberry-gaga. That’s where RIM should be looking.

My almost 70-year old dad wants a Blackberry. His business partner has one. Almost every university undergraduate wants one. My kids want one each too.

They know a BlackBerry when they see one. Think about that. I can’t say the same for most other brands.

Come on, guys! Come and ride on this! Get on TV, in newspapers, on blogs, and on buses – and push this thing!

Push it, or go the way of the dinosaurs.


RIM did not achieve its great successes because of the American market. They achieved it when they started selling their BlackBerry phones elsewhere on the planet. That is exactly what they need to keep doing and pushing harder.

If you know anyone in RIM who can pass this article up, please refer them to it. I would hate to have to refer to this article a year from now with regrets.

I rest my case.

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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi's journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. I do hate to disagree with you but I have no choice but to.
    RIM is in financial doldrums because it’s lost the mindshare & marketshare in it’s biggest market (The USA), The past few years has seen it slip from number down the ladder to 3rd, with the iphone and Android taking large chunks of it’s customers.
    Some people may argue that it has grown a mass following in the emerging markets. But then the question arises if the growth has been favourable why has their value fallen for 52 weeks straight, why have they announced more profit warnings and adjusted their financial outlook for quarters.
    The honest truth is that the developed markets like the US have a higher spending power and most people pay more for devices and are more likely to upgrade their devices as opposed to emerging markets.

    RIM really needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a compelling product or see their marketshare further decline. The issue of touchscreen over qwerty is a lost battle, android accounts for about 30% of the world smartphone shipments and a good number of those devices are touchscreen devices. Hauwei and co are low cost manufacturers. RIM doesn’t need to go that route, Apple has shown that playing in the high-end market does pay off eventually. Hauwei and RIM devices aren’t reviewed alike, how many times have Gsmarena reviewed a Hauwei device.

  2. This where I agree with mr mobility: RIM need to pursue the energing markets he mentioned,this is very true as i see the followership of BB explodes all around me.If they have not felt our impact,its because 50% (my statistics) of BB in nigeria are used ones from the UK and the US,which doesnt reflect on RIM profits.
    The american market and media,forms a dangerious alliance giving the impression-without us RIM will die,another lie!
    BB was a smartphone aheard of its time.she now must reinvent herself and become again the mobile gadget for the future

  3. @jujukemist

    How is the BB ahead of it’s time.. It’s a primitive system, it wasn’t until OS6.1 that BB got compelling enough to me. You are probably a BB user and may have not tried using android or the iphone. The touch interface is the wave of the future, and RIM has to seat up. I just wonder why OEM like RIM and Nokia just sat back and let Android and Apple steal their thunder, Symbian Belle and probably OS7 are compelling enough to get people to stay on. But that ship has sailed.

    BB may be the most compelling device of choice for Nigerians but in the western world it’s not the case.

    I’m looking forward to trying out the WP7 platform next largely due to the Nokia map feature and the fact that’s it’s a Nokia. Now that’s what the future should look, maybe be lacking in some basic features like bluetooth sharing and USB mass storage but it would get there eventually

  4. this why mr mobility insists we understand issues before we fire!
    its obvious you dont know me on this blog or you lack the virtue of IQRAA! me use BB,how, when! infact if not for yomi recent writeups on BB,i hated BB so much it reflected onmy contributions on this blog.if i must be sentimental,i did say i am an N8/symbian die hard-resouce effciency&power management,fullstop.
    Let me tell you why i hate android-the same reason why i love symbian.can you take your android phone in to the jungle for 48hrs on a single charge?
    i have lived with the gaga etisalat and lg p 500 i hate them all! when doing analysis never bring in fanboyism

  5. you see what i just said, I NEVER SAID BB IS AHEARD OF ITS TIME! read think and analyse before you shhot.

  6. @jujukemist, here is a direct quote from one of your posts..
    ‘BB was a smartphone aheard of its time

    Then you denied , ”I NEVER SAID BB IS AHEARD OF ITS TIME’

    How can you now advise..’read think and analyse before you shhot.’

    You probably need that advice MORE!

    *** SMH ***

  7. Apart from the compression thingy, BB is an ooverpriced and verrated piece of comparative antiquated crap.

    The networks- of course- love it because of the spartan use of bandwidth.

    From the standpoint of the user, the compressive edge pales into insignificance if you have an unlimited data cap- Or-you have a generous data deal.

    Server assisted mobileweb browsers detracts from that edge too.

    If an app needs to go online to do its job, i would rather use the webapp equivalent – via a server_assisted mobile browser.

    I do not see RIM recovering from their global doldrums unless they do a great turnaround on both the hardware and OS fronts. A tall order!

    Their major USP (messiagng / push emai is being attacked ferociously.

    Apple’s iMessage, Samsung’s ChatOn, WhatsApp, third party push email services (eg Seven, Emoze)l, Nimbuzz are calling to question the justification for going down the the ‘Blackberry NarrowWay!

    Buying that BB just for the ‘pinging feature’? Maybe we need to go back to the dark ages of ‘pagers’!

  8. “Interesting enough, the iPhone didn’t become so popular by copying anyone. Go figure.”
    Mr. Mobility please tell them!

  9. @Timi noah o!
    i am shocked that Ebee key fell for this,most unfortunate.i delebrately left the clarification for people like you to point it out.thanks.shukran! (arabic)
    before current smartphones pushed mails edit documents on the go,compressed internet data,secure and encrypt voice protocal etc the BB ruled! I should not not mention the addictive pinging-how i hate its addictive influence. Thats the point I made.I put on my safety lock.shukran!

  10. damn! eyebeekay yes! igot the name right now.i kept spelling the bame apologies pls

  11. @jujukemist,….damn! eyebeekay yes! igot the name right now.i kept spelling the bame apologies pls
    eyebeekay is just a ‘nom de plume’. Watz in a name – anywayz?

    As to Timi conveniently giving u an escape route, na you sabi! I am not deceived.!


    BB was a smartphone aheard of its time

    Okay- WAS..

    As @ WHEN?

    How WAS it ahead of its time? Was it EVER number 1?

    Let us disambiguate, and not merely play with words!

  12. The question posed by this article is if RIM needs The American market? The answer is YES.. A few years ago it had a large chunk of the American market, it’s balance sheet was healthy, and the share price was high. Today it’s lost a large chunk of that market in return it has gained more market share in the emerging markets and has lost 71% of it’s market capitalization and someone still asks if needs The American market and goes as far as to say it doesn’t. No offence sir, but this is just delusional thinking. The balance sheets speaks volumes.

  13. Yes, I have to come in now with more of my opinions! I have to state categorically that I have to take sides with Martinkem and Eye.Bee.Kay on this one. I do not see how RIM could improve their tides by ignoring their primary market. Yes, there is a craze for BLAckberry smartphone in Nigeria, but at the same time, how many of these folks are able to afford a blackberry or an iPhone for that matter? Few! Jujukemist was right when he mentioned that the majority of folks here actually buy second hand BBs from Europe or US. That doesn’t give the much needed income or profit to RIM! Martinkem was also right when he mentioned correctly that the West have a higher purchasing power and that profits for RIM depends on how greatly they make points. You cannot ignore those two cardinal points.

    Also, I’d like to disagree with Mr. Mobility that RIM sales is doing well in England/UK. In most of Wetern Europe and America, RIM sales are falling! BBX or Blackberry 10 could have done something but wouldn’t be available till late in 2012! I’m also disappointed that BB couldn’t fight for the BBX moniker or tradename for their new OS! If it were APPLE they would have gone ahead and then brave the patent dispute in court. Did you folks know that the “iPad” was already trademarked before Apple? Apple simply paid off the trademark owner after some spell in court. RIM should have done the same!

    Finally, I do not think the cost per BB phone is worth it! If you buy an iPhone 4s or a Samsung galaxy S2 or the Nokia N9, you know you have a sweet design, high speced camera and sublime hardware features (like dual core, RAM, etc) but you can’t say same for a BB phone. It’s like Rim Is just sitting back, lazy and refusing to innovate! CES is around the corner, but I bet you RIM wouldn’t try to catch up with new benchmarks for innovations like other OEMs would do!

    Now, if you’re looking for a high SPECED multimedia phone, then it wouldn’t be A BB by a long shot! Concerning push emails, instant messengers, iOS, WP7 and Android have those functionalities. Is it in the Enterprise and encrypting data, iOS, Android and WP7 also thrive. There is no killer feature in any BB phone.

    Methinks RIM should go to the drawing board and INNOVATE. they should come up with a compelling device and improve their OS. BBM does not cut it again. Not anymore. Especially in the world where Android is ravenously devouring ALL the competitions!

  14. BBM
    does not cut it again. Not anymore.
    Especially in the world where Android
    is ravenously devouring ALL the
    is this not where the ‘was/is’ came in?
    meanwhile lets not miss the extrapolation of the writer(from my understanding) ie though the americans are or have thrown out RIM,this can be compensated by RIM diversifying.I will disagree with anyone who say 3 continents’ purchasing power does not overrun the cocky US of A

  15. @eyebeekay
    there is every thing in a name,there was a reason/spirit behind you choosing your pseudo name.If it werent so,you should have been nameless!
    Let me also say thank you shukran laka for emoze,i downloaded it,very hypnotic UI. I love it

  16. @jujukemist

    is this not where the ‘was /is ’ came in ?
    meanwhile lets not miss the extrapolation of
    the writer ( from my understanding) ie though the americans are or have thrown out RIM , this can be compensated by RIM
    diversifying .I will disagree with anyone who
    say 3 continents’ purchasing power does not
    overrun the cocky US of A

    I understand your assumption now is that RIM is doing so well in Nigeria or even Africa, but you should understand that even Mr. Mobility in this article stated that:

    …The hype is much, though Blackberry devices are not really as popular.

    So many people in Nigeria think that
    Blackberry is the most popular phone in
    Nigeria right now. Even media houses and
    tech people (who should know better) help
    spread this impression though it is very untrue!…

    So using the hype of a few uninformed people to arrive at three continents where RIM is doing so well may be a serious oversight.

    And whatever you do, don’t underrate the USA. Outside North America, Nokia was doing well and so choose to ignore the Americans. Today we know the story of Nokia.

    If you are in any kind of business and need worldwide recognition, then you simply need to worry if your business offering is rejected by the Americans because sooner than later, the rest of the world would be toeing the American line.

  17. Does that necessarily matter? Apple”s reining in the USA, yeah agreed. But what abot the rest of the world? Android”s taking over virtually all market shares because they have phones for every category, both the rich and the poor. Iphone can’t saturate as much in other economies as android phones or even Nokia phones because they have only one phone, form factor and ONLY ONE target audience. If any consumer wants to toe the American line I guess they must be ready to buy it the American price

  18. Its indeed sad that many people do not understand the dynamics of what’s going on. First off, it is a business!! RIM is a company and they have shareholders that want profit! If they ignore the US market, a market that has the highest smartphone penetration in the world, that’ll be perilous to say the least. Apple hasn’t penetrated the developing world yet its balance sheets make investors smile!

    Secondly, RIM isn’t advertising in the US! While in TX for almost 3 months, I never came across a single RIM ad! I saw HTC’s, samsungs, iphone4s even motorolas! Verizon was advertising, Sprint was advertising but no blackberry was on their platform! Simply put the people don’t even know the new phones exist!

    Thirdly, RIM isn’t creative. The new os7 is disappointing at best. BBM is good but nothing that can’t be substituted. Simply put, they haven’t really put any creative ideas into their software!! Apple has Siri. Android makes innovations every year and what does RIM do?

    Finally, emerging markets have low purchasing power and the rate of penetration can’t be ascertained hence its a moot point…

  19. Laughable bunch of comments coming in here!

    Here’s a tip for you guys: the first rule of analysis is getting a hang of the history of what you are analysing.

    As I have pointed out before on this blog, lots of so-called mobile enthusiasts do not know mobile history, and many of you have no understanding of – or experience in – business management. Those claims of mine have been reinforced here again.

    Oh, well, let the fun continue.

    Keep the comments coming! Have your say!

  20. For those who know Tomi Ahonen @tomiahonen on twitter, This is what he had to say about this article:

    “@tomiahonen: BRILLIANT #RIM #Blackberry strategy analysis blog by RT @iYomiAdegboye

    EOD !!!

  21. I know how Tomi is, to me he’s an ex-employee of Nokia, turned analyst, alarmist who needs the attention to sell books and speak at seminars.

    The topic is point blank and requires no deep thoughts and over-analysis.
    Should RIM abandon it’s home markets. The only way I can be bought over is a full analysis of RIM’s smartphone sales broken down region by region and also stating the amount of revenue derived from these device sales shown also region by region

  22. RIM must work hard within American Market no product or company can survive by excluding American market. The emerging market hardly buy new phone more than 70 percent of BB users in this market are UK used. Even Nigeria crude oil is sold in American market. American have the population and the living standard even though it is credit driven. You can get loan to buy anything.

  23. Let’s call a spade a spade and deeply look at the intimate details of the problems bedevilling RIM and perhaps we’d jointly proffer a solution!

    First of all; Research in Motion is a monumental failure, if I could use that word. RIM’s last quarter call was literally abysmal. This even got Nokia & Microsoft to even consider a buy out! The legacies of RIM this year includes the following; Late products, tablets without email app client, no clear cut developer startegy and Antiquated smartphones!

     For Gawd’s Sake RIM SHOULD AS FOREMOST IMPORTANCE do the following for survival!

    1. Sack the Co-CEOs! Agreeing to take a salary of $1 a year isn’t enough!
    2. They should go Palm OS or Android or Windows Phone 7!
    3. And finally, continue to shine at what makes them great which is Security, Messaging and Enterprise Servers!
    4. Oops. And innovate too. Should be able to compete with Apple and Samsung punch for punch knock down on features on their phones!

  24. its so sad BB is going down this way. that their report earlier this work is enough to tell everyone some drastic needs to be done. I think they very much need the US market unless they agree play with a much more smaller market share. I will I’ve to see them survive though and not swallowed by Nokia/Microsoft or even Samsung or HTC. That will only lead to fewer competition and less innovation. BB has contributed immensely to smartphone usage in Nigeria. I hope they survive this one.

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